Laying out the Shape and Planting some Potatoes
Well… Now that my professional gardening season is back in full swing, I’m not creating the quality time that I would like to write in this blog (write my book for that matter!).
So, here it is. Sunday morning. I’m up at 7am after celebrating Earth Hour last night which became Earth Evening and I only turned my lights on to heat some evening tea at 10:45 and then write for ten minutes in my real hard cover journal at 11:15. Twas a really beautiful evening of candlelight and slowing down and tuning in and listening to the wisdom that does occasionally bubble up in me. (Most time it bubbles up in the stillness of the garden.)
Okay —— We’ve made some advances in the Medicine Garden at my teacher’s house. Last Sunday, we actually worked in her backyard to mark out the actual shape of the bed. When her husband saw how big it was, he got a wee bit worried about his mowing and losing his yard, but then got more excited about it all once he was better informed on the amount of food that would be grown. Then he wanted us to make it bigger. (I will scan in a shape later.)
But the shape of the garden is one large rectangle abutting another smaller rectangle below a tree. The reason that I’m describing them as two separate ones is that we’re going to till them up and create beds in them that will create circles in each of the two, even though we could plant them as one mass – which we’re not doing since this is a sacred garden. If this garden were mine about 12 years ago, I probably would have the rows all straight up and down perpendicular to the slope of the hill… but that is not so helpful for the movement of energy in the space. Circles.. Circles… Circles… Energy moves best in circles (our cells are a circle, the earth is a circle… etc etc).
Altars are a circle made up of Stones in the Native American (I believe this is true to all indigenous people) traditions…For that is what this garden will be — an altar of plants. Two altars next to each other since we could not extend the line of the larger rectangle to the length of its other side because of the tree.
So… We’re breaking ground actually on 4/18. We were setting out the shape of the garden to show us where the various corners will be so we could build our potato cages now instead of waiting until 4/18. Seed potatoes can plunked in the ground early in the spring to get a longer growing season. We decided the potato cages will be in the corners of the smaller rectangle. They will actually be the corners.
Then after some other folks had to leave, My teacher and I spent the next hour or so fiddling with the chicken wire for the potato cages, chasing my leather gloves back from her beautiful lovable sheepdog puppy (can’t remember the exact breed in this moment), trying to figure out how to attach the wire to the metal stakes that we had gotten for them. When I asked her at the garden center — Southern States — how many stakes for each cage, she blurted out “seven” — a sacred number. Which was most helpful since we needed the extra stakes for marking the corners of the whole bed, as it was on Sunday, and Southern States was not open on Sunday.
But we set up the trial run potato cage with only four stakes. And a circular mass of chicken wire… ah… yes, A CIRCLE with four directions — an ALTAR of potatoes growing inside. (We’re using the potato condo, stacking of leaf compost up all season on top of the emerging green potato foliage approach… hoping/expecting to have a stack of potatoes to harvest by the end of the season. Yum!)
My teacher delicately cut the seed potatoes up (I’m pretty certain that she was blessing each one as she did it) and I planted. I had some to plant that were babies from my garden last year that had sprouted in my house over the winter… And we discussed what the Internet article told us about how to cut and cure the seed potatoes before planting versus what she learned as a child.
“You know, Mare, I don’t mean to be difficult, but when I was with my Cherokee Aunties growing up, I saw them just take that whole potato and cut it up and put all the pieces right there in the ground. They did not wait for them to cure or anything. I really don’t want to be difficult but I’m just not sure that we need to wait a few days to plant these,” she said in her slight Texan twang as we were starting to consider which ones to plant. (She spent her childhood based out of Texas though most of the time she was traveling around with her medicine woman grandmother, a quite colorful character — from all that I’ve heard.)
I had to agree that maybe her Cherokee Aunties were probably wiser than the Internet.
So we finished the one potato cage and called it a day. It was late Sunday afternoon. She was exhausted from all her various medicine woman things she does that does not allow her to get much sleep and I was tired too.